‘I’m Studying It’: Trump Refuses to Give Strong Backing to Controversial New Texas Abortion Law
17:25 GMT 05.09.2021 (Updated: 18:27 GMT 05.09.2021)
Donald Trump is known to have shifted his position on abortion when he began pursuing the Republican nomination for president. In 1999, he boasted that he was “very pro-choice” but by 2016 he was promising to pick Supreme Court judges who would “automatically” overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark decision that made abortion a right throughout the US.
Former president Donald Trump has given a somewhat ambivalent response to Texas’s freshly enacted abortion law, taking credit for the lack of Supreme Court action to overturn the law while calling it “complex” and perhaps “temporary".
“We do have a Supreme Court that’s a lot different from what it was. Before it was acting very strangely and I think probably not in the interests of our country. I’m studying it right now. I know that the ruling was very complex and also probably temporary – I think other things will probably happen and that will be the big deal and the big picture,” Trump said, speaking to investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson in an excerpt from an interview that aired on Sunday.
“We’re studying the ruling and we’re studying also what they’ve done in Texas. But we have great confidence in the Governor and the attorney-general and the lieutenant-governor - there are a lot of great people in Texas, and we have a lot of fans and a lot of support in Texas. So we’ll be announcing something over the next week or two weeks,” Trump added.
5 September 2021, 14:20 GMT
The former president and potential GOP 2024 frontrunner did not elaborate on what his announcement might be, or what he meant with the suggestion that the ruling could be “temporary".
Trump’s comments come in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision late on Wednesday not to overturn the anti-abortion legislation which came into force in the Lone Star State on 1 September. That legislation prohibits abortion providers from carrying out pregnancy terminations after fetal cardiac activity (ie, a heartbeat) is detected – something that usually occurs about six weeks into pregnancy.
The hardline legislation did not make any exceptions for rape or incest, which contradicts the position taken by Trump when he ran for office in 2016, in which he listed three exceptions – rape, inbreeding or circumstances in which pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, to the Republican platform on abortions.
In its present form, the Texas law would force women to carry their pregnancies to term even if they were the result of rape or incest. It does allow for termination “if a physician believes that a medical emergency exists,” however.
The law also deputises private citizens to serve as abortion watchdogs, allowing individuals to sue anyone suspected of performing an abortion or assisting in the performance of an abortion that takes place after a heartbeat is likely to have been detected.
Pro-choice activists have decried the new restrictions, arguing that many women do not even become aware of their pregnancies until six to eight weeks in.
3 September 2021, 00:43 GMT
The nine-member US Supreme Court presently has six justices appointed by Republican presidents George W Bush and Donald Trump, with the remaining three appointed by Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. In a ruling Wednesday night, the court ruled 5-4 not to block Texas’s new abortion ban.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat, slammed the passage of the Texas law, calling it unconstitutional and promising to fight it. On Thursday, he asked the federal government to take steps to ensure that women in Texas continue to have access to lawful abortions on the basis of protections granted to them under US law.
Abortions were effectively legalised across the United States by Roe v Wade, a watershed 1973 Supreme Court decision which determined that the US Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s freedom to choose to have an abortion without government restrictions.
The new Texas law, combined with the Supreme Court’s decision to let it stand, has sparked concerns from pro-choice activists that Republican-leaning states across the union may now draft similarly restrictive abortion legislation. On Friday, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said he would “look more significantly” at the idea of a fetal heartbeat abortion ban. “What they did in Texas is interesting and I haven’t really been able to look at enough about it.”
DeSantis made his remarks after Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson announced that state lawmakers were ready to submit a Bill similar to the one passed in Texas in the Florida Senate.
Activists also fear other states, including North Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ohio, Idaho and Louisiana, may follow Texas’s lead, with many of these states already having similarly restrictive legislation on the books, or passing similar laws only to have had them blocked by the Supreme Court in the past.